Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Smarm

Summary: A post-kidnapping fic. Smarm and h/c.

Notes: In the midst of writing the first few scenes for Sea Dreams (Prophecy), I discovered I needed a major smarm fix, and reading the same stories over and over again just wasn't cutting it. And as much as I wanted to write a smarm tale set in Susan Foster's GDP universe, I didn't think I should do that permission-less. ~grin~ So...excuse first, the cliches; and second, that I'm too lazy to write an entire fic to lead up to this. Just enjoy the somewhat blatantly plotless warm fuzzies.

Thanks to Robyn for the beta and the suggestion of "bookending" the main scene. Any remaining errors (including the very purposeful lack of plot!) are mine and mine alone.

Shelter
by Becky
November 2001

He woke to find the television turned off, the lights dimmed, and an afghan covering him to the waist. In the background, he could hear the rhythmic clicking of a computer keyboard. Lifting his head from the pillow at one end of the couch, Jim looked around, eyes fixing on the light spilling from the downstairs bedroom. Pushing himself up halfway with a quiet groan, he pulled the afghan from his legs, tossing it haphazardly over the back of the couch.

"Jim? You awake?" Blair called softly. Seconds later, he appeared at the french doors. "Hey. How you feeling?" He came around and sat on the coffee table, leaning slightly forward, arms resting on his legs.

Rubbing one hand carefully over his forehead, Jim replied, "Better. How long have I been asleep?"

Blair glanced at the VCR clock. "An hour or so. Not long."

"Hmm." He swung his legs around to sit properly on the couch, then stretched his arms upward, wincing as bruises stung and sore muscles pulled uncomfortably. "Ow." A hand touched his knee, gripping it firmly, immediately switching his attention from inward pain to outward sensation. Relaxing, Jim shared a smile with Blair. "Thanks. Is there any coffee?"

"Yup." Blair stood and walked towards the kitchen. "Be right back." Jim leaned back to watch him, catching sight of the white bandage on his friend's hand, remembering...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Earlier...

Floating somewhere beyond the boundaries of physical realities, he didn't hear or recognize the rising din of sound and noise approaching him. As it grew closer, he curled inward, withdrawing further from the pain. Sharp twinges rolled up his body, and he stilled, fuzzily recalling that moving hurt. From a distance, he heard a low moan. At the same time, something from outside touched him, and he flinched, a violent shudder shaking his frame. And then an achingly familiar voice washed over him, piercing the gray haze separating him from his surroundings.

"Easy, easy. It's just me. I've got you."

The gentle voice beckoned him, and he tried to respond, but again, he heard only a low moan.

"Shh...don't try to talk, Jim. Let me take care of you."

In the distance, the loud noise continued, slowly abating, gradually separating into distinct sounds. Shouts. Gunfire. Individual words. Something pulled his attention back ... a hand touched him, gliding past his shoulder up to his face. He turned his head slightly toward that touch, sensing the grate of the rough carpet on his other cheek.

Another voice, deep and commanding, quietly intruded. "How is he?"

"He's hurt." Short. Clipped. Angry. "He's kinda awake; I think he hears me." The hand drifted back to his shoulder and down his arm, stopping just above the thick metal encasing his wrists which rested against his lower back. "We need to find a key for these things."

"Hang tight. I'll get Brown on it." Rapid footsteps led away.

The hand disappeared, and he twitched unhappily before the warmth reappeared on his face.

"I'm still here."

Fingers delicately stroked across his forehead and temple, emphasizing the differences between the craved gentleness on one side of his face and the coarse scraping on the other. Abruptly the rest of his body chimed in, spiking with sharp bursts of pain. He heard that low moan again and realized it came from him.

"Jim?" The hand left his face and fell upon his shoulder, holding it firmly. "What is it? What's wrong?"

The distant noises became louder and clamored in his ears. Glaring brightness flared beyond tightly closed eyelids. Darkness fell over him as he felt the presence move closer. The hand moved back to clasp the side of his neck. Something else touched his forehead, and he froze as the voice spoke again in a low soothing whisper.

"I know it hurts, but you're okay. You're safe, Jim. I'm here. Just breathe, and concentrate on me."

He instinctively obeyed, breathing carefully through his mouth. The pain drifted away to a more tolerable level. The chaotic sounds dissipated. The light faded to a simple glow.

"That's it." A thumb stroked along the line of his jaw. "Better."

"Hey, Sandburg."

The pressure against his forehead vanished although the hand remained in place. "Henri. Did you find a key?"

"Yup." Another set of hands touched his wrists, and he could hear metal upon metal as the manacles on his wrists were removed. "Man... Grissom did a number on him."

"I know." The angry tone returned momentarily. "Help me get him onto his back."

His arms, stiff and unresponsive after hours of constriction, were brought forward as he was rolled from his side to his back. A hand cushioned the back of his head carefully. The movement reawakened the pain of his injuries, and he tried to pull away from the helping hands.

"Jim! It's okay." Two hands caught his face, holding it. One of the hands felt wrong. "Henri, are there any medics...?"

"I was just wondering myself. I'll go find one and haul them back here."

"Thanks."

"Jim." Again, something touched his forehead. The soft voice soothed him with a stream of words, guiding him to push back the pain, to breathe, to feel only him.

As again the hurt faded, he cautiously opened his eyes and blinked a few times, clearing the blurriness in his vision. Hunching awkwardly over him was Blair, pressing his forehead to Jim's. Dark circles shadowed his partner's closed eyes. The faint scent of drying tears tickled Jim's nose.

Opening his mouth, Jim tried to speak. "Bl..." The rest disappeared in a dry croak.

Blair's eyes flew open, and he moved back a little, releasing his hold on Jim's face. A brilliant smile lit his features. "Jim. Hey." His voice remained quiet. "Welcome back."

Jim attempted a smile, wincing as the bruise at one side of his mouth disputed the wisdom of such a move. His eyes drank in the sight of his friend. He swallowed and tried again to speak. "B...Blair?" Wanting to really be sure that his partner wasn't a figment, as he had been a few times in the past span of uncounted days, Jim tried to reach out to touch him. His hand only twitched where it lay at his side.

Noticing the movement, Blair grasped Jim's hand and held it warmly in both of his, stroking his thumb softly over the swollen knuckles. "Yes, it's me. I'm right here."

A thick white bandage covered one of Blair's hands, and Jim frowned at it. "What--?"

"This?" Blair wiggled his hand in the air. "Nothing to worry about. I, uh, got up close and personal with a wall. Simon and Megan both said I was pulling an Ellison."

"Why?"

"I..." He hesitated, then said, "You've been missing for nearly a week, Jim. I...I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever see you again." His voice trailed off into silence as the sentence ended, and his eyes dropped to focus on their entwined hands.

Jim squeezed Blair's hand to get his attention. "Help me...up."

Blair frowned. "Jim...I don't think that's such a good idea."

Struggling to get his arms to function and wincing as he moved, Jim repeated stubbornly, "Help me up."

"All right, all right," Blair grumbled. "But just to sitting. No standing! You'll topple over."

With Blair's help, Jim managed to sit up, swaying slightly. He steadied himself against Blair's form by resting a shaky hand on his friend's chest over his heart. The reassuring thumping beat against his palm anchored his still fluctuating senses.

Blair scooted closer, curling his legs into a half-lotus position to sit alongside Jim and still face him. "Easy there, buddy." He grasped the detective's arms, fingers tightening and adjusting to the unbalanced sway of Jim's body.

Jim noted the forced ‘I'm okay' tone of his friend's voice and the barely detectable tremor in his hands. Sensing that both of them were in need of reconnecting, he twisted slightly to the side and slid his hand up to curl around Blair's neck, attempting to tug him closer. His hand, he discovered, had no strength; instead he simply leaned forward, depending on Blair to understand, knowing he would. For a moment he felt adrift, but then Blair raised one hand to mirror Jim's touch along his neck, steadying him, and rested his forehead to Jim's for a third time.

Pausing to swallow and breathe, Jim whispered, "I'm here. And I am okay."

A shudder ran through Blair's frame, then he stilled, breathing out in a sigh that spoke of heavy relief from heartsick worry.

Outside the room, loud voices erupted, breaking the tranquility between them. His senses not totally under control, Jim cringed away from the noise, his eyes squinting halfway shut and hands twitching toward his head as he pulled away from Blair.

Instead, Blair grasped one of his hands, curling his fingers into Jim's palm. "Close your eyes, Jim. Just listen to me." With his other hand, he soothed two fingers over the developing pain crease on Jim's forehead. "It's all gonna be all right..."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Present...

Two days after the ‘raid and rescue' at Grissom's suburban gun shop in a rundown house, Jim was slowly beginning to feel more like himself. His condition upon discovery notwithstanding, most of his injuries had been minor. Surprising to him (though not to Blair), his senses were actually giving him the worst problem, flickering in and out of control as his body healed. He couldn't remember the specifics of his five-day stay with Grissom and his thugs, but knew enough to know he didn't want to.

As for Blair's injury...Simon gave him the sketchy details about his partner's "up close and personal with a wall" encounter. Something to do with being upset at the brass's idea about moving on to other cases. Just a few hours later, they'd received the tip that led them to the gun shop and to Jim.

The couch dipped next to him, and he jerked back to the present as Blair sat next to him, carrying two steaming mugs of coffee.

"Thanks." He took one and sipped it slowly, savoring the dark blend. After a few swallows, Jim asked, "How's the hand?"

Blair flexed the fingers of his injured hand. "Good. Thanks again for helping me with this earlier. A lot easier than trying to do to wrap it one-handed."

Jim inclined his head. "You're wel--" A car alarm screeched from outside the loft. Hands tightening jerkily on the coffee mug, he winced, ducking his head as the sound overcame his tenuous hold over his senses.

A quiet, calming voice spoke, gathering his attention even as the mug was removed from his hands. In its place came the touch of a another's hand. And words that soothed him.

"Close your eyes, Jim. And listen..."

~The End~

"It is in the shelter of each other that the people live."
-- Irish proverb